Home Up Somme Books Dicken's Cross Somme Battlefields Somme Cemeteries Somme in A Day Thiepval Memorial Somme Tourism


Somme Cemeteries

Researching someone who fought on the Somme? Visit my WW1 Research Page.

In Martin and Mary Middlebrook’s excellent comprehensive guide to the Somme battlefields, the authors state that there are 243 British military cemeteries in the department of the Somme. Of these 135 are cemeteries which contain burials from the 1915-16 period, totaling some 110,752 graves. The Somme has now entered the popular consciousness as one of the great, tragic battles of the First World War. Unlike any other battle, because of the high contribution of volunteer, or ‘Pals’ battalions, it is often perceived that a whole generation of young men fell in the 1916 battle. What is beyond dispute is that 127,751 soldiers from Britain and the Commonwealth died from 1st July until 18th November 1916, and 5,314 died in the months leading up to the battle. 

Although no accurate figures are seemingly available for the Somme front, it is likely that there were somewhere in the region of 300-500 British military cemeteries on the battlefield by 1918, some of these small cemeteries of only a few graves from a particular battalion, brigade or division. The then Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC) felt it was impossible to maintain all these burial sites, some of them in very isolated locations. A decision was therefore made to concentrate graves: keep some and move the majority into larger cemeteries. This resulted in the construction of 165 British military cemeteries on the 1916 battlefield, some thirty of which also contain graves from the 1917-18 period.

The main types of Somme cemeteries are:


Early Cemeteries: these are ones made when the British army first arrived on the Somme, or were extensions of existing French military cemeteries. They normally are dominated by graves from the lead-up period to the Battle of the Somme. Some good examples are Point 110 Old and New, Citadel Cemetery, and Auchonvillers Communal Cemetery.


Battlefield Cemeteries: burial grounds started following the commencement of the battle of 1st July 1916. These are often related to particular battalions or formations, are close to the site of the action and can also be mass graves. Good examples which still survive include the Devonshire and Gordon Cemeteries at Mametz, and the Hawthorn Ridge and Redan Ridge cemeteries near Beaumont Hamel.


Behind the Lines Cemeteries: cemeteries close to the location of medical establishments such as Advanced Dressing Stations (ADS) or Casualty Clearing Stations (CCS). One of the largest is Heilly Station Cemetery, but others include Auchonvillers Military Cemetery and Albert Communal.


Concentration Cemeteries: post-war burial grounds made by the IWGC, often on the site of a handful or graves or a small battlefield cemetery. Most are large, with several thousand burials each; such as Serre Road No 2, London Cemetery Extension and Delville Wood.

For full details of Somme Cemeteries see my Somme website - my latest website is found at: 


Email: Email Paul Reed


Hit Counter

Old Front Line website by Paul Reed - ©Paul Reed 2001-2007
Site Last Updated: 07 December, 2009 - Email: [email protected]